Hi, I’m Jules from Joyfuel, to tell you about Mindful Eating, which, if you do it, it will honestly transform your diet, your health, your life no question.
It’s not a fad, it’s not a diet. You don’t have to starve yourself, or go on some penitential plan that you’re never going to keep up anyway. It doesn’t cost anything, you’ll lose weight, you’ll feel healthier, and best of all, it’s something you can try right away, next time you eat!
So, first thing to realise—or admit to yourself— is: you don’t just eat when you’re hungry, right? You eat when you’re anxious. You eat when you’re stressed. You eat when you’re bored. When you think it’s meal time. You eat if you just happen to see some food lying around in the kitchen, maybe someone left it out. Or maybe someone else is having a snack, so now you feel you’ve got have one too! That’s how it works. I know only too well… I’m with you 100%!
But with Mindful Eating, what you’re now gonna try is this: you going to START NOTICING. And STOP habitually stuffing your face. Which is actually easier than you think. And it will make a difference. It’s a dietary no-brainer! You’re eating less, so you’ll naturally lose weight, cut calories, cut sugar and fats, feel healthier and maybe— even add a few years to your life. It’s really that effective, and simple.
So here’s some simple DO’s and DON’TS, to get you mindful eating right now…
First is, don’t eat on the run, or on the move, or when you’re doing something else. Just stop habitually eating and multi-tasking, because that IS the enemy of mindfulness.
If you want to reclaim your eating, the fact is you can not afford to eat while you’re doing a whole bunch of other things. You just can’t. For one thing, when you do all these other activities, your blood gets diverted away from your digestion to other bits of your body—yes, even your brain—which makes it harder to digest your food. Which might even be part of the reason you might get bloating, cramps and other digestive problems.
Only eat off your feet
So what you should do is: get some discipline. Turn your mobile phone down, or off, or at least put it out of reach. Turn off the TV, the radio. Clear the table of all the distracting crap—the magazines and papers, cereal packets and food wrappers that lure you with all their funny and interesting adverts & ingredients lists that are so fascinating. Remove all distractions and SIT YOUR BUTT down. At a table, preferably, not on the couch. That’s the first thing. The saying goes: ‘Only eat off your feet’. That’s a good one.
Next…… PAUSE. (Breathes in) Maybe take a couple of slow, deep breaths. In and out. Just a few seconds. That’s all you need. Break the the usual cycle, break the chain. Create some space. Feel your feet on the floor, your back on the chair. Anything that anchors you to this moment.
And be like the Zen master Suzuki Roshi who said, “When I eat, I eat”.
So FOCUS. Not in a heavy way. Just keep your gaze down, reduce distraction and keep your eyes on the prize.
Look at the food on your plate—it’s a gift! Be humble, be grateful. Half the world is starving. Realize what a lot of effort it’s taken to get that food on your table. Someone planted it, grew it, nurtured it, farmed it. Then you worked your behind off to pay for it, cook it, present it. So now at least, enjoy it!
If you can, be aware of the MOTION of eating, of lifting the spoon or fork to your mouth. Slow it down if you can. One good tip: use your opposite hand to eat, so if you’re right handed use your left for a change. Anything that breaks that habit of mindLESSness.
And savour the food. Smell, colours, tastes, the different textures. I’m not a huge fan of chewing each mouthful 30 times as some people say. Kind of takes the pleasure out of it. But just, slow it down and chew thoroughly. And if you can, create some space between each mouthful. Maybe put your fork down every so often.
Break the chains
Something else I find really useful is this: when you’re really hungry and you’ve just had the first mouthful or two… see if you can pause for a bit, maybe a few seconds or even a minute. Just create that gap, see what happens. Often it’s amazing how you can just remain in that gap, and your hunger just sort of fades away. And then, when you’re ready, resume, and maybe you’ll be even be able to keep that mindful focus going for the rest of the meal.
Don’t get stuffed
Another great tip— they advocate this in the Japan where some folks live way past 100 years, and also in many spiritual communities too— is, to only eat till you’re about 80% full.
It’s not an exact science, but the point is, stop BEFORE you’re stuffed. Leave a little room. (I guess, when you eat to full all the time, your tummy gets used to that feeling. So we’re now re-training our tummies, to feel less full.
A couple of other final pointers:
Drink some water FIRST. It helps you feel fuller quicker, and if you drink less during the meal, you don’t supposedly dilute your digestive juices so much.
Also, be PICKY! Don’t just eat anything because it’s there, or someone offers it to you. Be purposeful. Choose good, quality, nutrient-rich foods and snacks.
And be clever with portions. Some people use a smaller plate. Or put all the food you think you want on first, and don’t go back for second dibs. Or, if you really feel you need more, be mindful, don’t go over the top. Remember to leave some space. (And I don’t mean space for pudding either!)
And finally finally, try not to leave it till you’re starving hungry to eat. If you need to snack between meals, that’s fine. Just do it mindfully. And don’t forget to enjoy.
Good luck trying this. I thoroughly recommend it. If you need more info, there’s loads of resources on the web. But hopefully this should be enough to whet your appetite, so to speak. And actually, you don’t need much more than this.
So happy eating!
Cover pic: Courtesy of unsplash/jamie-matocinos